‘I started transitioning when I was 17 – it’s been about 5 years. I grew up on the Central Coast which has a very low trans population. There was probably me and someone else that was known for it in the gay community. Even the gay scene was really low so it was pretty bad.
‘I went to a Catholic School as well. I came out as a lesbian when I was 14 at the school which was not my best choice. I dropped out of high school because I went in to hospital for mental health reasons when I was about 17. And then I decided I needed to transition to a man and start doing the right thing for myself. There were a lot of members of my family who were quite actively not alright with it.
‘It sounds really weird but I didn’t think she [my partner] knew that I was trans because it wasn’t brought up. From the very beginning, there was no issue whatsoever. We’ve never had a problem with that. But on the Coast it was always something that was raised; there were always people talking about it.
‘When we met, she just didn’t give a second thought to being eccentric which helped lessen the anxiety about how people looked at me or how I behaved. Was I feminine or masculine enough? None of her friendship group even addresses that. They’re all so confident. I think her confidence has really rubbed off on me.’
‘I was born in Tanzania but Newtown was where I landed with my family when I was 8. It was our first encounter of Sydney and shaped our idea of Australia being this multicultural society and had a very positive impact. Newtown is a bubble but it shows that we have capacity to be that way as a whole. I feel like it reflects our best side and what we could be on a wider scale.
‘I came from a country where you just see one face so to speak which was my brownness. That didn’t really mean anything until I came here. When I came here I was different but there were just so many other differences that it was cool to be different. Newtown is a melting pot of cultures and demographics where we celebrate uniqueness and just being who you are.
‘I really believe in following my intuition and to follow what lights up my heart in whatever I do.
‘Follow your joy – go where you glow; go where you grow.’
‘I really feel for womankind. I think a lot of us beautiful women are torn in so many different directions with all the responsibilities we have. The time out thing is so important and a lot of girls don’t get it.
‘It’s really hard for teenage girls too because they can feel really insecure. They’re going through lots of changes and there are so many pressures now on girls – more so than when I was growing up. I wish for them to have happiness and not worry about body image – just pamper themselves and surround themselves with people that are going to make them feel good – it’s the most important thing.
‘I love the style, the glamour, the elegance of the vintage era – not only just in the fashion side of it but in the way people treat each other with kindness. I think we could all learn from those times to slow down and to be kind to each other. Things are too fast now. We need to be a bit gentler on ourselves and be our own best friends because if we are, everything else works out in life.’
‘It was very late in life when I finally worked out what I wanted to do. I started at the age of 47. I think sometimes things are meant to happen at ages that you don’t expect things to happen.
‘I don’t wish it had happened earlier. I think my life has panned out just nicely. There were other things I wanted to do. I was convinced I wanted to be a beauty therapist and an actress. I did both of those things and then realised they’re not for me. My passion just naturally changed and I think there is a strong message in that for everyone looking at what they want to do with their life. It’s not too late to change your passion. It was very hard to let go of the acting because I studied for 3 years, did my degree and then wondered how I could possibly stop but I finally gave myself permission to finally let go. This is my new passion and I love what I do.
‘From about 14 I was drawn to vintage clothing. I went through a number of years working in retail, studying acting and always in creative fields. One day I was unhappy with where my life was going. I walked in to an antique shop. I was looking at a shop counter and the guy asked where my shop was. I said that I didn’t have a shop but just loved the counter. He asked me if I did have a shop what would I have and it just came out. I said to him that it would be a vintage clothing shop. I had an epiphany at the moment, walked out and rang my husband and my mum straight away and said to them I know this sounds crazy as I have no stock but I just want to have my own vintage clothing shop. I didn’t buy the counter. Someone else bought the counter and I kick myself to this day that I didn’t but it was the catalyst. It really was like a bolt of lightning. I literally walked on air out of that antique centre because I knew what it was that I finally wanted to do with my life.’
‘This year has been both good and bad. I had two close friends pass away so that was pretty shit. One died from suicide – hanging herself – and the other one passed away from a motorcycle accident so that was pretty sucky.
‘I’ve met some amazing friends through this year and the support I’ve got from all my friends when I thought I didn’t have many close friends was great. I thought I had friends that were more acquaintances and I didn’t expect them to be as supportive. Maybe I’m just paranoid but it was nice to feel like they actually truly cared and actively wanted to be a part of my life. It’s definitely made me feel better as a person as well.’
‘My mum just got out of becoming really sick. She had a bit of a drug habit in other words. My father died early this year so I’ve had to deal with a lot of grief and that kind of stuff. We’re all strong people and everyone has a story. It makes you who you are and if you can get through that pain, it makes you stronger.
‘The hardest part is trying to get my mum to be stable. She’s been in this drug habit for as long as I can remember. The fact that she’s still alive is surprising. She won’t contact us and then she will. It’s really stressful because we don’t know what to do. I’ve got little siblings that live with my grandparents and are really worried about her. I want to do more to help but unfortunately I can’t stop her from being in this habit. There is nothing I can do except for just support my family. So that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment.
‘When you’re dealing with chaos all your life, you just want stability. When I say to people, I just want to get a job, they ask me why and tell me that working sucks. But I’ve never had a job and I want to do something. I want to contribute to society. I want to have an income, have a place to live, pay rent, have a stable life where I can work, see my friends, have a routine and not have to live in chaos.
‘Stability to me means having a home, having a place to go to and knowing who the people in your life are that support you. When you’re in too much of a chaotic environment, your head gets chaotic, you don’t know who you are and you lose sense of everything. Your sense of reality is warped and that’s what I’m trying to heal from now. I’m just hoping that eventually I won’t have to deal with that anymore.’